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Pharaohs face an 'Elephantine' task

Hosts Egypt are just one win away from a record fifth African Nations Cup title after they beat Senegal 2-1 in a riveting semi-final.

india Updated: Feb 08, 2006 17:15 IST

Hosts Egypt are just one win away from a record fifth African Nations Cup title after they beat Senegal 2-1 in a riveting semi-final here on Tuesday.

The 'Pharaohs' will meet fellow Group A outfit Ivory Coast— who they beat 3-1 in the first round— in Friday's showpiece after the 'Elephants' edged Nigeria 1-0 in Alexandria on Tuesday.

However, if one wanted drama it was Cairo you had to be in as Mido, who had hailed himself as the 'big man' for this tournament, had an extraordinary outburst at coach Hassan Shehata when he was replaced 10 minutes from the end with the sides level at 1-1.

Those familiar with Egyptian swear words probably had a field day as the 22-year-old Spurs striker ambled off the field in a state of disbelief as Amr Zaki waited to go on.

He had to be separated from Shehata by Hossam Hassan and the 74,000 crowd voicing their displeasure at his antics with cries of 'out! out!'— a minute later they were drowned out by cheers as Zaki headed home the decisive goal.

Mido had to be pushed by one of the staff members to go and join in the celebrations, but received scant regard as Zaki pushed him away— instead he and the rest of the squad ran and embraced Shehata.

"Things don't work as they should do in Africa," said Senegal striker Diomansy Kamara.

"It was the turning point of the game as we would have drawn level.

"However Egypt is the host nation and that is clearly the advantage," added the West Brom forward.

While one Premiership star had what could be conservatively described as a truly terrible day at the office, another had a superb one as inspirational Ivory Coast captain Didier Drogba scored the only goal in their victory.

It was the 27-year-old's third goal here— not including the winning penalty in the epic shootout with Cameroon— and gives Ivory Coast a chance of their second ever title and emulate the squad that won the 1992 edition.

First Published: Feb 08, 2006 14:47 IST